Social stratification in Bangladesh is characterized by a hierarchical class system based on factors such as wealth, education, occupation, and ethnicity. The upper class includes wealthy businesspeople and landowners, while the lower class comprises rural farmers and informal sector workers. In addition, there exists a significant ethnic divide, with ethnic Bengalis occupying the majority of lower and middle-class positions and ethnic minorities, such as the Chakmas and the Rohingya, facing significant discrimination and marginalization. Caste systems also exist in rural areas where certain groups consider themselves superior to others. Social mobility is limited in Bangladesh, with individuals and families often remaining in the same social class for multiple generations.
Social Stratification in Bangladesh
There are two main stratifications of Bangladesh society. They are:
- Rural Stratification
- Urban Stratification
Land ownership is the primary factor that determines social stratification in rural communities. In rural societies, people may be divided into the following social groups according to the quantity of land they possess and how much of it they own.
- Landless farmer: This type of farmer is further divided into two types.
(a) Those individuals who neither have a homestead nor agricultural lands to their name.
(b) People who own a homestead but do not have access to agricultural land.
- Marginal farmer: Individuals who have a plot of land that is less than one acre.
- Small Farmer: Individuals who own property that is between one acre and three acres in size.
- Middle farmer: Individuals who own property that is between 3 and 7 acres in size. They are in a rather healthy financial position and have the potential to make improvements to their situation.
- Rich farmers: Wealthy farmers often own property that is at least 8 acres in size. They do not have any direct relation to the agricultural industry. They participated in commercial activity, but the politics of the village dictated their behavior. A considerable number of them reside in towns.
On the other hand, in the case of social stratification in Urban society, ownership of land or wealth, power and education, etc., play an important role. Based on these elements, Urban society is divided into five classes.
- Upper class: They are the rich group. There are the owners of different mills and factories, industrialists, businessmen, marketing agents of the services sector, importers and exporters, local agents of international organizations, etc.
- Upper Middle Class: The upper middle class includes the different expert professional classes besides the medium type of industrialists and businessmen.
- Middle Class: These are mens with modest incomes, such as small service holders, professionals, businesspeople, cultivators, and other men in similar roles.
- Lower Middle Class: They are proprietors of minor services and entrepreneurs who need more financial resources. They engage in economic activity, mainly in the form of skilled workers rather than manual labor.
- Lower Class: Those who live in lower class are those who are impoverished and live in metropolitan regions. They are present in a significant amount. They often do not have any consistent means of bringing in money. They also do not have a fixed place of abode. The members of this group are sometimes referred to as the floating pullers. They are responsible for breaking bricks in addition to doing other forms of unconventional work.
Examining the dynamics of social stratification in Bangladesh reveals that the country’s urban and rural regions are distinct. The riches of the rural region could be much better. More options to find work and bring in an income may be found in metropolitan settings. So, there is a more significant gap in terms of wealth between the lower-class citizens, the middle-class citizens, and the wealthy citizens.